ÄMARI, Estonia - Italian Eurofighter jets took over the augmenting role in NATO's Baltic Air Policing Mission from Belgian Air Force F-16s, during a ceremony in Ämari on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018.
Senior representatives from Estonia, NATO, Belgium and Italy addressed dignitaries and the two Allied detachments to stress the importance of Air Policing as a peacetime collective defence mission that is both vital and a fundamental component of safeguarding the integrity of Alliance Airspace.
The President of the Republic of Estonia, H.E. Mrs Kersti Kaljulaid thanked the Belgian detachment members for securing the Estonian and Baltic airspace during the last four months. "Your participation on this rotation has been a shining example of Allied solidarity, and also an example of Belgian willingness and capability." She also welcomed the Italian airmen to Ämari, saying that the Estonian-Italian cooperation is an excellent example of both the challenges facing and solutions facing NATO. "Italy is contributing its airplanes for the collective defence of NATO's Eastern Flank, while Estonian servicemen are actively participating in crisis management operations on the Southern Flank of the Alliance," said President Kaljulaid.
Representing Allied Air Command, the Deputy Commander of the Deployable Air Command and Control Centre, Brigadier General Roberto Di Marco also thanked the Belgian detachment for their contribution and welcomed the Italian detachment to the mission. "The Allied detachments' mission here at Ämari is twofold: under the Assurance Measures they highlight NATO's commitment as well as the ability to adapt and scale our defensive deterrence posture. Under the Air Policing mission, they conduct collective defence, safeguard airspace integrity and ensure a single standard of airspace security across NATO's area of responsibility," said Di Marco.
This is the third time the Italian Air Force is part of mission in the Baltics after two a back-to-back deployment in Šiauliai and Ämari in 2014. Allied Air Command's Air Policing
mission planning, direction and task coordination is provided by its two Combined Air Operations Centres (CAOCs) at Uedem and Torrejon. CAOC Uedem is regionally responsible for Baltic Air Policing.
Story by NATO Allied Air Command